Friday, October 29, 2010

THE IMPORTANCE OF DISCERNMENT AND SHARING THE GOSPEL

1Corinthians 15:33 Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.

The Complete Jewish Bible translation is clear and is supported by every other translation I checked.
Don’t be fooled. “Bad company ruins good character.”

The Greek for communications is a reference to companionship. Every good parent tries to teach their children that discernment in the choice of friends is very important. Every honest adult will admit the importance of that instruction. I couldn’t help but think of the scripture’s teaching that “a little leaven leavens the whole lump.” (Galatians 5:9; based on Jesus’ teaching as recorded in Matthew 13:33 and Luke 13:21) Peer pressure is a powerful influence—either for good or for bad. Sadly, there are far more people who will influence us for bad than there are those who will influence us for good as based on the teaching of scripture.

Matthew 7:13-14 “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”

I am reminded that the context is the teaching of the resurrection. Paul is evidently making reference to false teachers who have infiltrated the Corinthian church and are teaching that there is no resurrection. Take away the hope of the people regarding their resurrection to eternal life and you destroy their faith.

1Corinthians 15:34 “Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.”

Paul’s warning—Wake up! (Get a grip!) Quit your sinful ways and start practicing righteous living. (Live according to God’s instructions as stated in scripture.) As always, the corruption of God’s truth always leads one into sin. I just watched the movie “The Timechanger” again. Satan and his forces are so successful in their use of deceit. Even teaching the morality established by God’s word will eventually result in sin when taught disconnect from the authority behind that instruction.

“some have not the knowledge of God” – According to Jamieson, Fausset & Brown this is a reference to “An habitual ignorance: willful, in that they prefer to keep their sins, rather than part with them, in order to know God.” Once our flesh gets a taste of sin, it wants more.

The more I think about it, I think that is why many who claim to possess saving faith in Christ have no interest in studying God’s word. The more you know, the more you have to confront the guilt associated with disobedience to His instruction. It’s easier to “enjoy” the pleasures of sin for a season if you can claim ignorance to its being identified as sin. That also explains the success of the seeker sensitive message embraced by many “pastors” today. By avoiding preaching against sin and only teaching about God’s love, their members can remain comfortable in their sin and stay connected to their church. The “pastors” can then consider themselves successful without suffering persecution as experienced by the prophets and apostles of old. In fact, they can enjoy a very luxurious lifestyle. I can’t help but be reminded of Paul’s words to Timothy.

2 Timothy 4:2–4 “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”

Paul pulls no punches as he shares this truth. He declares this truth to the shame of those in Corinth who call themselves “Christians.” He understands like the prophet Jeremiah that the body of believers needs to understand God’s word—not just in part, but in whole.

Jeremiah 23:21–22 “I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied. But if they had stood in my counsel, and had caused my people to hear my words, then they should have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings.”

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

APOSTLES’ ENDURANCE OF PERSECUTION GAVE EVIDENCE TO TRUTH OF GOSPEL MESSAGE

1Corinthians 15:27-28 “For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.”

These are hard verses. In doing phrase searches, Psalm 8:6 was the only verse I could find with like wording, and the context there is concerning man in general.

Psalm 8:4-6 What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet:

In Adam man proved unworthy of the dominion given him, but in Jesus, the perfect man, man could once again qualify for that position of authority. Paul clarifies the obvious—In putting all things “under his feet,” the one investing that authority, God the Father, is excluded.

“when all things are subdued unto Him” – When sin and death have been destroyed forever at the end of the millennium with the destruction of Satan and his last rebel army.

I believe that the last half of verse 28 is making a distinction between Jesus the Son of God and Jesus the perfect man. As Jesus, Son of God, the perfect man, He will humbly place Himself and His kingdom in subjection to the Father. As Jesus, Son of God, Divine Creator, He will ever be equal to and in complete unity with God the Father and His Holy Spirit. Even as I type it, I don’t really understand it. I believe it was God in the fullness of His tri-unity that fellowshipped with Adam and Eve in the garden, and I believe it will be God in that same fullness with whom we will have fellowship for eternity.

“that God may be all in all” – I think this is an exclamation point on the perfection and purity of our eternal existence. God will indeed be the complete focus of the life of each one that is part of His eternal kingdom and will, I believe, continue to be a part of each one of His children through His indwelling Spirit.

1Corinthians 15:29 “Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?”

It’s obvious that Paul is making reference to people who are living being baptized on behalf of loved ones who have died. In context, the subject has been the resurrection of Christ and in turn of believers who die. I think it is significant to note that in no other scripture is this taught to be an appropriate practice. I decided to look at a few commentaries, and I believe David Guzik made some good observations.

“The plain meaning of the original language is that some people are being baptized on behalf of those who have died. Paul's point is "If there is no resurrection, why are they doing this? What is the point if there is no life after death?"

Significantly, Paul does not say, "we baptize for the dead," but asks what will they do who are baptized for the dead, and Why then are they baptized for the dead? Therefore, Paul is referring to a pagan custom of vicarious baptism for the dead. "Paul simply mentions the superstitious custom without approving it and uses it to fortify his argument that there is a resurrection from the dead." (Mare)

Paul's point is plain: "The pagans even believe in the resurrection because they baptize for the dead. The pagans have the sense to believe in resurrection, but some of you Corinthian Christians do not!"

1Corinthians 15:30 “And why stand we in jeopardy every hour?”

In this verse Paul is referencing the persecution they face from their testimony and their preaching of the gospel. It is certainly foolish to jeopardize one’s safety if the gospel is not true—if there was no resurrection of Jesus from the dead and no future life for the believer.

1Corinthians 15:31 “I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.”

In the expanded Greek translation by Wuest this verse reads: “I am daily in danger of death by my glorying about you, brethren, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

The Complete Jewish Bible words it this way: “Brothers, by the right to be proud which the Messiah Yeshua our Lord gives me, I solemnly tell you that I die every day.”

Both of these translations make the connection to the previous verse clearer. Paul lives each day with an awareness of the possibility that he might be killed for preaching the gospel message, an act that brings him much joy through the fruit God is giving him in converts.

1Corinthians 15:32 “If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die.”

Nowhere in scripture does Paul tell us that he fought in the arena at Ephesus, and he was quite specific in a couple of places to detail his persecutions.

2Corinthians 11:22-27 “Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I. Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.”

1Thessalonians 2:2 “But even after that we had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated, as ye know, at Philippi, we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention.”

2Timothy 3:10-11 “But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me.”

I believe Paul is making a hypothetical application. The Greek for beasts makes reference to figurative use for an encounter with furious men. I believe this is what Paul is referencing here. Whether in reference to wild beasts or angry men, the point is that Paul’s actions were useless and of no benefit to him if there is no resurrection to life after death. One might as well enjoy the temporary fleshly pleasures of life to the fullest if death is final with no hope of resurrection.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

IN THE RESURRECTED CHRIST WE CAN EXPERIENCE LIFE AFTER DEATH

1Corinthians 15:20 “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.”

Paul quickly follows the thought of the horrible implications of no resurrection with the truth. Christ has risen from the dead. He became the firstfruits of all those that have died as followers of God in faith.

In looking for some thoughts on firstfruits, I found some interesting thoughts in Eerdman’s dictionary: “…The first of the seasonal produce from the soil. It was considered to be intrinsically holy, the possession of God….The very first sheaf of grain harvested was to be transferred to God by the elevation ceremony before the Lord.”

I thought that painted a beautiful picture of the resurrection of Jesus. He was the first man to be resurrected from the earth to a glorified body. He was/is holy in nature, completely possessed of God. He was elevated to the throne of God to establish God’s blessing on the rest of the harvest, the body of believers.

1Corinthians 15:21-22 “For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”


It was through the man Adam, the progenitor of the human race, that all men are condemned to both physical and spiritual death. Through the willing sacrifice of the perfect man, Jesus, mankind now has the opportunity to gain victory over death through the resurrection. Just as surely as those birthed through Adam in the flesh are condemned to death, those who are reborn in the spirit by faith in the resurrected Christ will experience a resurrection to new life.

1Corinthians 15:23 “But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.”

Paul is emphasizing that there is an “order” to the resurrection of man to eternal life. This is a reference to sequence or succession. Christ is the firstfruits, all other men/women of faith will be resurrected at His coming. We know from other scripture that this coming will be in two parts and will include two groups of believers. He will first come to receive the body of believers (both dead and alive) and take them home to the Father (as promised in John 14) preceding the 7-year period commonly known as the tribulation; all other believers will be resurrected when He returns to rule as King.

John 14:2-3 In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

John 5:28-29 Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.

Revelation 20:4-6 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.


David Guzik made a couple of important points that I hadn’t thought about: “The Feast of Firstfruits was observed on the day after the Sabbath following Passover (Leviticus 23:9-14). Significantly, Jesus rose from the dead on the exact day of the Feast of Firstfruits, the day after the Sabbath following the Passover.”

“The offering at the Feast of Firstfruits was a bloodless grain offering (Leviticus 2). No atoning sacrifice was necessary, because the Passover lamb had just been sacrificed. This corresponds perfectly with the resurrection of Jesus, because His death ended the need for sacrifice, having provided a perfect and complete atonement.”

1Corinthians 15:24-26 “Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.

I believe the end being referenced in verse 24 is a reference to the end of the millennial kingdom when Satan and his rebellious army have been defeated once for all. It is at that time that all evil spiritual forces will be condemned to the lake of fire for eternity. It is at that time that He will be able to present His kingdom to the Father as full of those who have freely chosen to serve Him for eternity. The kingdom will not have one citizen who is an enemy of God or of His chosen people (the body of believers). I thought it was interesting that “death” is described as an enemy. Why? Death came to man as a result of sin, and sin is what came between the fellowship of God and man. Once sin is eliminated, death will be eliminated as well. With the destruction of death, there will be no enemy to man left in creation. With sin and death destroyed, the Father can once again freely fellowship with man as He did with Adam and Eve in the garden.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

WITHOUT THE RESURRECTION WE HAVE NO HOPE

1Corinthians 15:11 “Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed.”

This is a summary statement emphasizing that whether Paul or one of the other apostles, they were all preaching the same gospel message—the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It was that gospel message that the Corinthian believers embraced in faith for salvation.

1Corinthians 15:12 “Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?”


I had to read through this verse several times. It would seem that Paul is trying to understand how some in the Corinthian church could believe that Christ rose from the dead and yet deny the truth of resurrection for anyone else.

1Corinthians 15:13-14 “But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.”

Paul seems to be saying that either the resurrection is true or it isn’t. If Christ rose from the dead, then there should be no reason to deny that He could raise others from the dead. If Christ did not rise from the dead, then the gospel message that Paul and the other apostles and followers of Christ were proclaiming was useless, and their faith was useless.

God’s word is either true or not. Jesus either rose from the dead or He did not. If your faith is based on a lie, you will be disappointed.

This is a hard truth for many to accept. I believe that many in this world give credence to false religions because of passionate teaching and/or testimony of the people who are sincere in their belief concerning these religions—but they are sincerely wrong. Truth is not relative no matter how the so-called intelligentsia try to present it as such. Truth can have only one foundation, and that foundation is found in God and His word. Man’s understanding of truth can change, but the truth itself never changes.

1Corinthians 15:15-18 “Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.”

Paul is stating that He and the apostles and other followers of Christ are liars if Christ did not resurrect from the dead to new life. If God raised up Christ from the dead, He will raise up those who follow Christ. Paul is stating this truth as an either-or situation—
• If Christ was resurrected to new life from the dead, then believers can look forward to the same.
• If Christ was not resurrected to new life from the dead, then believers have no hope of eternal life.

Now he applies his reasoning to those in the church at Corinth—If Christ did not rise to new life from the dead, your faith is useless and you are still in sin. Those believers who have already died are doomed for eternity.

Paul is obviously repeating himself, but he is driving home the point that the gospel message hinges on the truth of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Without it, our faith is pointless.

1Corinthians 15:19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.

Sobering truth in this verse. Reminder—it is addressed to those who declared their faith in God through Jesus Christ.

No matter how successful, prosperous, healthy, influential, or secure one’s life may be, if this is all there is, we are most miserable. Why? Because we are counting on so much more. We can enjoy life here and still understand that the eternal life to which we look forward will far surpass that experience. If we are among those who are not so fortunate here, there is no source of comfort to which we can turn for strength and encouragement. Our lives would be no different than all those who follow false gods/religions today. To those who like Paul and the apostles face persecution and ridicule for their faith, their existence will consist of much misery with no hope of eternal deliverance.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

TESTIMONY OF THE RESURRECTED JESUS

1Corinthians 15:5-8 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.

Paul is careful to document that there were many witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection. First, he was seen by Cephas/Peter and then by the 12 disciples together (this would seem to include Matthias). After that, he was seen by over 500 at one time, most of whom were still alive at the time Paul wrote this letter. He was also seen by His brother James and all of the apostles; this would seem to indicate that all those named as apostles in the New Testament were part of that 500+ and probably part of the group of 120 followers who waited in the upper room for the baptism of the Holy Spirit as detailed in Acts 1. Paul was specific in positioning his vision of the resurrected Lord as distinct and separate from those who saw Him before He ascended.

Scripture is not the only historical record of the resurrection. Though disputed by some, the record of the Jewish historian Josephus in his “Jewish Antiquities” makes mention of the resurrection: “3. (63) Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ. (64) And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men among us, had condemned him to the cross [2], those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day [3], as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named for him, are not extinct at this day.”

William Lane Craig, a leading apologist concerning the resurrection, quotes a prominent critic of the resurrection in defending it: “Even Gert L├╝demann, the leading German critic of the resurrection, himself admits, ‘It may be taken as historically certain that Peter and the disciples had experiences after Jesus’ death in which Jesus appeared to them as the risen Christ.’”

“born out of due time” – In looking for help on this phrase I found this quote from Jamieson, Fausset & Brown: Greek, “the one abortively born”: the abortion in the family of the apostles. As a child born before the due time is puny, and though born alive, yet not of the proper size, and scarcely worthy of the name of man, so “I am the least of the apostles,” scarcely “meet to be called an apostle….”

1Corinthians 15:9-10 “For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.”

I believe Paul was filled with remorse for his persecution of those who followed Jesus, “the church of God,” and was extremely grateful for the privilege of serving as an apostle. Although we know through his teaching that he clearly understood that he was a new creation in Christ, he still had to deal with the flesh—as do we all until we shed these mortal bodies of flesh for immortal ones. He felt his past clearly established him as unworthy and as the least (less worthy of honor) among the apostles.

Paul knows that it is only by the grace of God that he is privileged to serve as an apostle. Frankly, it is only by the grace of God that any of us are privileged to serve the Lord in any capacity. Grace is the unmerited favor of God. I’ve always heard it defined as being given what we don’t deserve. We are all born sinners deserving of death, yet He has chosen to gift us eternal life through Jesus Christ His Son if only we will accept that gift. The only way to earn eternal life is to live a perfect life, and we have all fallen short; we have all sinned. It is only through the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ that is ours through God’s gift of salvation that we can look forward to eternal life.

Paul could also matter-of-factly state that God’s grace was not bestowed upon him in vain. In other words, Paul gave great evidence of possessing saving faith through his selfless ministry in spite of great persecution. No one could accuse him of having dead faith. He unapologetically states that he has worked harder than any of the rest of the apostles in his service to the Lord. (And we know this to be true since he is writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.) I love the Greek for the word grace, “the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life,” which we know is the work of the Holy Spirit. Paul was also acutely aware that he could do nothing in and of himself and that it was the work of the Holy Spirit in and through Him that deserved all the credit. Paul was just the willing yielded vessel.

These are very instructive words from Paul. He was humble yet aware and confident in his ministry. He knew how he measured up among the other apostles, but he didn’t demean their service. He was just making the point that he was more motivated because of his past persecution of these very believers. I am reminded of these verses in Luke.

Luke 7:42-43 “And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most? Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged.”

Paul knew His weakness, and he knew in Whom his strength lay. He didn’t presume to try to minister in the flesh. He was grateful and honored to serve the Lord.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

FAVORITE CHAPTERS REGARDING OUR FUTURE

As I looked over the content covered so far in this blog, I realized that there were a couple of significant omissions. There are a few specific chapters in scripture that are extremely important in understanding our salvation and our eternal future. The first is 1 Corinthians 15. In this series of blog posts I will take a fresh look at this chapter jumping from my original journal notes and making changes and/or revisions as necessary.

1Corinthians 15:1-2 “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.”

As Paul begins to close his letter, he is led to again affirm the message of the gospel. The gospel is the message of Jesus’ redeeming work on the cross as defined in verses 3-4. Paul assures them that his message has not changed; it is the same message he first presented to them--the message they had received for salvation, the foundation upon which their new life in Christ is established.

“if ye keep in memory” – This is one area in which I think the KJV translators tried to facilitate understanding and ended up making it more difficult. After looking at the Greek, I think the better translation would have been: “if ye possess….”

In looking at the Greek for “in vain,” I found the following: “idly, i.e. without reason (or effect):—without a cause, (in) vain(-ly).”

In other words, Paul is saying that if you truly received the gospel as your personal possession, you are saved, permanently delivered from the condemnation of sin.

This also implies that one can make a profession of believing without truly taking possession of God’s gift of salvation. This makes me think of a verse in the book of James.

James 2:17-19 “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.”


I added the surrounding context to explain that belief that doesn’t effect change in one’s life is dead faith, as James put it. If you truly possess faith in God, there will be evidence in your life.

You cannot use this scripture to teach that someone can lose their salvation. Scripture does not contradict itself, and Philippians 1:6 is clear that one who possesses saving faith is sealed with the Holy Spirit of God and is kept by the power of God. You can’t be more securely sealed or more powerfully protected. This truth is affirmed in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians and in Peter’s first letter.

Philippians 1:6 “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:”

Ephesians 1:13-14 “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.”

“sealed” = to stamp for security or preservation

1Peter 1:3-5 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”

“kept” = to mount guard as a sentinel…figuratively, to hem in, protect

1Corinthians 15:3-4 “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:”

Paul is careful to note that he is delivering the gospel message just as he had received it, and in his letter to the Galatians he is very clear in stating that he received it from Jesus Christ.

Galatians 1:11-12 “But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

This section of scripture is often referred to as “the gospel in a nutshell.”
1. Christ died for our sins according to the scripture.
2. He was buried.
3. He rose again the third day, according to the scriptures.
The whole of scripture is full of this truth. When Adam and Eve sinned, an innocent animal had to die to provide them a covering. The curse of sin is death—spiritual death. The whole sacrificial system was established to impress upon men that God would only provide forgiveness according to the righteous judgment of sin, and this forgiveness required the death of an innocent lamb without blemish being sacrificed to atone for one’s sins—an obvious picture of the gospel message.

One of the more specific scriptures regarding the death of the Messiah is found in Isaiah 53.

Isaiah 53:5-8 “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.”

Jesus didn’t just fall into a faint, “he was cut off out of the land of the living.” His burial was referenced in the psalms.

Psalm 16:10 “For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.”

Jesus also taught that He would be buried.

Matthew 12:40 “For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”

This verse in Matthew also implies from the reference to Jonah, that after three days and nights in the earth, He would return to the land of the living.

Monday, October 11, 2010

THE SIGNS OF END TIMES

This blog has been focused on presenting my understanding of bible prophecy based on a personal verse-by-verse study of the scripture. There are those who assert that the study of prophecy is a waste of time and energy. The Lord Jesus, however, chastised the spiritual leaders of His day for not recognizing the prophetic “signs of the times” that identified Him as the Messiah.

Matthew 16:2–3 “He answered and said unto them, When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red. And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowring. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?”

Why did the Lord expect them to recognize those signs? Because of the revelation of God’s word through the prophets. Daniel prophesied of the timeframe. Micah prophesied where He would be born. Isaiah prophesied of the miracles that He would do. John the Baptist personally identified Him.

I think the Lord expects no less of the believer today. He personally gave a detailed prophecy about the end times preceding His return that is more commonly known as the Olivet Discourse and is recorded in Matthew 24-25. In addition, the Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy giving specific warning of things to expect that would signal the “latter times.”

“So what?” is the refrain of many. Christians have been saying these things for hundreds of years. That is true, and even this attitude was foretold by the Apostle Peter.

2 Peter 3:3–4 “Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.”

As is often the case, the revelation of scripture becomes clearer over time. I believe this truth was prophesied by Daniel.

Daniel 12:4 “But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.”


Many make application of this verse to the increase of knowledge as a whole. I believe that the primary intent is regarding the understanding of scripture. The prophet Amos used very similar wording that seems to point in that direction.

Amos 8:11–12 “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD: And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, and shall not find it.”

The verse in Daniel 12 appears to be the bookend to the verse in Amos.

There is also another important motivation for the study of prophecy from the words of the Apostle John in the opening words of the book of Revelation.

Revelation 1:3 “Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.”

One cannot possibly hope to piece together the prophecy puzzle without studying the book of Revelation, and the Holy Spirit tells us through John that there is a special blessing for those who “read…hear…and keep” the things recorded in that book.

All that being said, I thought it was time to give the main reasons why I believe that we are in the end times and can expect the soon (days or years—not centuries) return of the Lord Jesus. This list is based on the studies reported in these blog posts, and I am not going to repeat the scriptural foundation for each observation. It is just my opinion, based on my study of scripture, of the main signs of the times for Jesus’ return.

• The primary sign is the reestablishment of the nation of Israel as foretold by the prophet Ezekiel.

• The exponential increase of seducing spirits in the “church” that are teaching the doctrines of devils as Paul warned Timothy. It’s heartbreaking to hear those who identify themselves as pastors and teachers of the Word of God declare that scripture is full of mistakes and can’t be taken literally.

• The quickly increasing worldwide acceptance of homosexuality and the degeneracy of morals as a whole.

• The alignment of the nations in preparation for the war against Israel described by the prophet Ezekiel (chapters 38-39).

• The growing worldwide rejection of truth for the belief of fables and the aggressiveness with which these fables are defended. For example: God did not create the world; it exploded into being out of nothing. Chance and time resulted in the miraculous detailed intricacy and perfection found in the universe; a designer was not necessary. I always think of the following verse in 1Timothy with regard to this issue: 1 Timothy 6:20–21 “O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: Which some professing have erred concerning the faith.”

• The exponential increase in both the number and magnitude of earthquakes.

• The speed at which we are approaching becoming a cashless society with the technology to control buying and selling at a global level.

• The ever increasing call among the nations for worldwide governance.

• The existing technology that allows events around the world to be seen all over the globe in real time.

• The existing capability for man to destroy humanity from off the face of the earth.

• The “advances” in science in the fields of genetics and transhumanism that will blur the lines of defining personhood. Frankly, I just don’t think the Lord will allow this type of science to corrupt the human population to a vast degree before He intervenes with judgment and the establishment of His kingdom.

Even so-------Come Lord Jesus!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Conclusion According to Scripture: Israel is Vital to the Fulfillment of God’s Plan

From the establishment of God’s covenant with Abraham, the nation of Israel as descended through Abraham through Isaac and Jacob has been affirmed to be a part of God’s eternal plan for humanity. This covenant assured the people of Israel not only spiritual blessings, but material blessings as well that center around a specific parcel of land in an area now known as the middle east. Though God’s covenant with Abraham was unconditional, obtaining and maintaining possession of the land promised to these descendants of Abraham was based upon their obedience to the covenant revealed to the people from God through Moses; in other words, it was conditional. God’s subsequent covenant with David was also unconditional and eternal in nature.

The very character of God is at stake in the fulfillment of each of these covenants according to His word. Scripture tells us that God is truth and that every word He speaks will come to pass.

Deuteronomy 32:4 “He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.”

Psalms 33:4 “For the word of the LORD is right; and all his works are done in truth.”

Isaiah 55:11 “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.”

Scripture and history are clear in declaring the truth of God’s word as foretold by His prophets. Israel’s scattering throughout the nations of the world gives evidence to that truth. The reestablishment of Israel as a nation is another fulfillment of prophecy as foretold by the prophets—most specifically by the prophet Ezekiel.

Ezekiel 37:3–14 “And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord GOD, thou knowest. Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. Thus saith the Lord GOD unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live: And I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the LORD….Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts. Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves, And shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the LORD have spoken it, and performed it, saith the LORD.”

Ezekiel 37:21–23 “And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land: And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all: Neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions: but I will save them out of all their dwellingplaces, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them: so shall they be my people, and I will be their God.”


It is important to note that this regathering is of the “whole nation” and will happen after such a lapse of time that hope is lost. It’s also important to note that the time of regathering will culminate in the people of Israel turning back to God in faith and repentance never to reject Him as Lord again.

The regathering has begun, but the culmination point of an established nation under God in faith and obedience is yet to come. The fulfillment of prophecy concerning Israel is vital to the plan, purpose and person of God. Thankfully, we in the “church” have been blessed to have a part in His plan and purpose; and our promises in Christ are just as sure as His promises to Israel through Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and David.

The signs of the times are clear that fulfillment is near---------I can hardly wait!!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

We Are Not Meant to Understand God’s Ways

Romans 11:30-31 “For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief: Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy.”

The first thought that crossed my mind as I read these verses was that God is no respecter of persons. He always acts according to His unchanging character. He set a plan in motion for the nation of Israel; along with His plan He provided certain guidelines to ensure their blessings. Disobedience and rebellion would result in their being cursed according to His word. These guidelines were all clearly set before the people by Moses. Since Israel chose to rebel against God and reject Him (as a nation), God chose to set them aside for a while and work through the Gentile nations in an elect group of people of faith known as the “church.” This was an act of mercy by God. This act of mercy would spill over to the people of Israel as they responded to God’s provocation (cf v11), their desire to regain favored status before God.

The facts fall out as follows:
• Israel established in favored position with God through faith; the Gentiles are in unbelief.
• Israel rejects God; God in mercy turns to the Gentiles to establish a people of faith to assume the position rejected by Israel.
• Israel is provoked to jealousy by the Gentiles, and returns to God in faith and repentance; they are restored to favored position.
• All dealings of God with both groups are according to His mercy.

Israel’s purpose in God’s plan was to reveal God to the nations and to be examples that would cause men to turn from their wicked ways and to God in faith. When Israel rejected God, He had to establish another people of faith to continue to fulfill His purpose. In the end God’s plan will have been accomplished in spite of the failures of His chosen people—both Israel and the Church. The fact that Israel returns to God in faith and is restored to favored status in no way takes away from the blessings and privileges that He has given the church (cf v29). It is a result of God working to ensure that His covenant with Abraham is fulfilled to the last detail.

Romans 11:32 “For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.”

“concluded” = to shut together, i.e. include or (figuratively) embrace in a common subjection to…

Galatians 3:22 makes it clear how that mercy was shown—through the gift of Jesus—“But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.”


Based on the earlier chapters in Romans, we know that all men are sinners (cf 3:23). When God looked down at man, he saw His favored creation bound together in sin. His response was to show mercy and provide a way to deliver them from that bondage. That plan had to answer to God’s character in every aspect. There had to be a man without blemish or sin willing to sacrifice himself on behalf of his fellowman. The only solution was for God to send His only Son, Jesus, to become a man. He was not of the seed of Adam, so He did not have a sin nature. He became the new Adam. He lived the type of life that God had created Adam to live. He came in willing obedience to His Father. The Father gave proof of His acceptance of Jesus’ sacrifice by raising Him from the dead. Only those men who acknowledge their need for His sacrifice and willingly accept His provision as a gift of God in faith will benefit from that mercy.

Note that God’s plan was for the benefit of ALL men. We are still in context flowing from verses 30&31 in reference to Jew and Gentile.

Romans 11:33 “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!”

Depth has a reference to profundity and extent; Webster defines profound as “reaching to the bottom of a matter.” Riches have reference to wealth and abundance. The two things being referenced—God’s wisdom and His knowledge. Wisdom is the capacity to make the best use of knowledge with discernment, judgment and skill (from Webster). Knowledge is a “clear perception of fact, truth or duty.” Paul is saying that God knows all that there is to know and has the capacity to put that knowledge to the greatest use for good.

The Greek for unsearchable stated “inscrutable,” which Webster defined as “incapable of being searched into and understood by inquiry or study; impossible or difficult to be explained or accounted for satisfactorily…” The Greek for judgments references making decisions—for ways references “a road, a mode or means.” In other words, we are not capable of understanding why He makes the decisions He makes and does things the way He does them—unless He so chooses to make us understand. This verse immediately brings to mind a couple of my favorite verses in Isaiah.

Isaiah 55:8-9 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Romans 11:34 “For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor?”

The first half of verse 34 made me think of a verse from my study in 1Corinthians.

1Corinthians 2:11 “For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.”


The second half reminded me of verse in my study of Isaiah.

Isaiah 40:13-14 “Who hath directed the Spirit of the LORD, or being his counsellor hath taught him? With whom took he counsel, and who instructed him, and taught him in the path of judgment, and taught him knowledge, and shewed to him the way of understanding?”

In his letter to the Corinthians the answer is clear that only the Spirit of God knows the mind of God. The rhetorical questions in Isaiah as well as the last half of verse 34 have only one implied answer—No one.

Romans 11:35 “Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again?”

Another rhetorical question with the same implied answer—No one. God is the Creator of all things. Everything man has (including his abilities) is a gift from his Creator. There is nothing we can give to Him that we have not first received from Him.

Romans 11:36 “For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.”


“of” = denotes origin
“through” = denoting the channel of an act, the causal agent
“to” = of place, time or purpose

God is the Creator and the provider of all things according to His purpose. He only is worthy of glory (praise, honor, worship). Amen = the exclamation point of that truth.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Time is Coming When All Israel Shall Be Saved

Romans 11:25 “For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.”

“I would not….be ignorant” – Paul uses this type of terminology in his letters when he is making an important point.

“mystery” = revelation of something previously unknown (It has always been a part of God’s plan, but He hasn’t revealed it to man before now.)

the mystery = “that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in.”

The blindness is obviously spiritual blindness. “The fullness of the Gentiles” is a reference to the completed body of believers composed mainly of the Gentiles, the church; just as the “fullness” referenced in verse 12 speaks of the whole of the nation of Israel turning back to God in faith.

“in part” – In other words, there are still Jewish people coming to faith in God through Jesus as part of the church, just as there will continue to be Gentile believers coming to faith once God’s focus returns to Israel. Turning to God in faith has always been an option for every man and woman born on planet earth.

“lest ye be wise in your own conceits” – The CJB puts it this way, “so that you won’t imagine you know more than you actually do.”

I found the following quote from Jack Kelley that was enlightening on the phrase “fullness of the Gentiles be come in.”

“The Greek word translated ‘full number’ is a nautical term and refers to the number of crewmen necessary for a ship to set sail. And the phrase ‘come in’ means to arrive at a destination. Once the required complement of soldiers and sailors was aboard, the ship could leave the harbor and set sail for its destination. So it is with the Church. Once the number required to make up its membership is reached the Church will depart for its destination in Heaven, and God will open the eyes and soften the hearts of His people Israel.”

Romans 11:26-27 “And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.”

Instead of being a nation composed both of men of faith and those who have rebelled against God, Israel will become a nation composed only of men of faith.

“as it is written” – Where? This appears to be a quote from Isaiah 59; it was the closest I could find by searching with different word combinations.

Isaiah 59:20 “And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the LORD.”

In truth the Redeemer/Deliverer (Messiah Jesus) came out of Sion/Jerusalem (where He was crucified, buried and resurrected), and He is the one that will turn away ungodliness from Jacob. In Isaiah, the emphasis is on the Redeemer returning to Zion and to His people (Israel) who have turned to Him in repentance and faith.

The next verse in Isaiah connects with verse 27.

Isaiah 59:21 “As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the LORD; My spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed’s seed, saith the LORD, from henceforth and for ever.”

This is the new covenant that God will establish with His people; it is unconditional once they have responded to Him in faith and He returns to Zion as the King. He will give them His Holy Spirit, just as He has believers in the church age. The power of the Spirit at work in their lives individually and the nation as a whole will secure their position of restoration and deliverance. God promises that from the beginning of the Messianic Kingdom, every descendant of Abraham through Isaac and Jacob, every Jewish person will treasure the word of the Lord and the ministry of the Spirit in their midst----forever, time without end.

Romans 11:28 “As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes.”

The NLT wording is more easily understood. “Many of the Jews are now enemies of the Good News. But this has been to your benefit, for God has given His gifts to you Gentiles. Yet the Jews are still His chosen people because of his promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”

Romans 11:29 “For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance. “

In other words God doesn’t change His mind regarding the gifts He gives and the invitations He issues. Once you receive a gift from God, it is yours. Once an invitation is accepted, He won’t rescind the offer. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob accepted God’s call. (Note: Once Abraham responded to God’s call, His invitation to follow Him in faith, God’s commitment to Abraham was sure.) Their descendants ended up behaving wickedly, but God will not renege on His promise.

Based on the predominant culture today people, at least in America, have a hard time understanding this type of integrity. Our society is full of loopholes to contracts; divorce is a quickie process in many instances; a man’s word is certainly not the binding factor it once was. Man’s tendency is always to justify his actions and to view himself from the most favorable position possible. I wonder if this is part of the reason why certain sections of the “church” have twisted the scripture to support the idea of “replacement theology”—the belief that the church has replaced Israel, the Jewish people, in God’s economy permanently.